Renowned Oregon Conductor Helmuth Rilling has been called “The Bach Pope.”
In his 80 years, he has not only conducted all Bach’s works, he has also directed the recording of all Bach’s work for the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death in 2000.
In 1970 he founded the Oregon Bach Festival, which he still conducts, now in its 44th year.
The 2013 OBF is dedicated to Rilling, who will receive the Oregon Community Foundation’s Eugene Arts and Letters Award and a Distinguished Service Award from Chorus America this summer. Rilling will conduct part or all of 10 concerts, out of the 31 concerts and 60 Bach-related events in Eugene, Portland, Florence, Corvallis, Ashland and Bend.
What began in 1970 as a dialogue between Rilling and Royce Saltzman led to educational workshops for professional conductors on the University of Oregon’s campus in Eugene.
Those workshops quickly grew into the current-day Oregon Bach Festival, one of the west coast’s premier classical music events. Guest artists this year include Chee-Yun, pianist/conductor Jeffrey Kahane, the Chuang/Levin piano duo, and soprano Tamara Wilson.
After the 2013 festival, Rilling will pass the baton to a new artistic director, the Oxford educated Matthew Halls, who has conducted orchestras, as well as operas all across Europe. The Oregon Bach Festival has been granted twice by the Oregon Cultural Trust, $15,000 in 2010 and $10,000 in 2013. Other University of Oregon cultural programs have also received grants from the Trust.